Beauty met brains when Meeta walked away with the prize for ‘Best Service and Team of the Year’ at the London Hair and Beauty Awards, 2015. Her individually founded beauty and aesthetics salon Atelier M – “started from home” where she would “travel out for mobile visits, growing the franchise just over the course of the last ten years”- was contender among slick, transnationally renowned brand names such as Aveda and Babyliss. Sat there under the sparkling chandeliers, at the prestigious black-tie ceremony at the Marriott Hotel in Mayfair, the beaming entrepreneur told us of the experience, “I could feel that all the hard work and vision had paid off; it just goes to show you can make a start from humble beginnings, as long as you have the focus”. Indeed, what makes Meeta special is a laser-sharp professionalism, and we are not just talking about her speciality hair-removal service: “when it came to beauty” she told us “I was always attracted to the precision of aesthetics; the way one can look so well put together. I suppose that’s why Audrey Hepburn was my favourite style icon. I enjoy making things match, knowing that I am training with the best available names out there so I can provide the best service possible.” Making the conscious decision to move into styling and beauty, after some time as an optician, and carrying on in the face of a difficult divorce, Meeta not only radiates strength as a person, but as a self-possessed businesswoman at the turn of the millennium.
Could you tell us a bit about Atelier M’s journey?
I started as a beautician, doing people’s nails from home. What followed was a busy time consisting of 9-9pm days, but it gave me valuable experience and the money to invest in top-end courses. Eventually I opened up a salon in Putney, changing the name from Meeta’s Beauty to Atelier M. I did much of the development of the business myself, from the marketing and social media aspects to the investment in the latest machinery and recruitment of my staff.
What is unique about your business?
We’re on top of the latest treatments: a big part of Atelier M’s journey was staying away from normal basic treatments such as the simple massages, and say Shellac manicure which is available in shops in nail polish form, and moving towards more advanced territory so we could compete with western salons in more affluent areas such as Knightsbridge and Kensington. In terms of this, we offer: semi-permanent make-up, cryolipolisis which is essentially fat-freezing and removal without having to go under the knife, lip plumping, laser hair removal which I am an expert in, and to top it all off a team of highly qualified hair-dressers.
And these are all contemporary developments?
Yes, they’ve been spreading across the UK and internationally in America for nearly a year now. The Kardashians have done many of these treatments, and I’ve done them for celebrities in theatre, and in film myself. The whole idea is to bring the Harley Street type salons to Putney; this good quality service can be available at your doorstep. For example, I did the beauty treatment for Made in Chelsea’s Lucy Watson and she was incredibly pleased.
How did you bring all the different aspects- marketing, social media, and training- together?
Loving what I do! I always liked beauty and make-up. When I had my first child, I decided to drop the career in Optometry and move towards the creative. After my home-run nail beauty service began to take off, becoming popular in more affluent areas such as Richmond and Wimbledon, I begun to be able to advertise in all the mummy magazines. Then I got on some great courses such as Dermalogica and Dr. Murad, the latter which I also use personally. It was about what I felt was useful together with what I liked. I research what was emerging. For example, I was invested in laser treatment way back before it became popular.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Helping my clients feel and look good, and giving them my honest, best advice.
Can you give us three good tips for putting on make-up?
Yes!I am a make-up artist, having trained with MAC and good Asian brands too: first, double up on eyelashes to get that wow factor. Second- use gel eyeliner rather than liquid. A good brand to use for that is Inglot. Thirdly, for your skin, keep your face hydrated and exfoliate at least twice a week.
More specifically, how can Asian businesses come out on top in the west?
Do your research and don’t be afraid to change and evolve your salon. For example I’ll still see boutiques offering dated services such as microdermabrasion when there is skin tightening. When you see celebrities with tighter jaw lines that’s what’s happening! Go to exhibitions and conferences and find out more. Look at what the salons in places like Hollywood, LA, and Switzerland are offering; read all the magazines
Finally what is your advice to other young beauty professionals?
It’s best to look at each individual topic: what are the best massages, the best facials? Do the hard work and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Another part of that is naming your salon. Put a modern spin on it; none of this ‘Mina’s Beauty’ stuff!